Prison in Peru: Part 2
"The jailer asked Paul and Silas, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." -- Acts 16:30-31
In my last eNews article, I recounted a story of going to visit orphan boys in a prison in Peru. I was uncomfortable with the thought of being in a prison in a developing country; and yet, Jesus showed up in that prison, and the ministry to those young boys was a highlight of our recent mission trip to South America. Now, I want to share an experience when our mission team almost became inmates in a Peruvian prison! But by the grace of God and through prayer, Jesus delivered us.
It was our last day in Peru, and The Rev. Anderson Sanchez was taking us to the airport to fly home. Anderson was driving us through downtown Lima when - all of a sudden - a police car pulled us over. A young, aggressive, and not-very-friendly policeman walked over to us and explained that he had stopped us because the windows in the van were tinted too dark and he suspected us as being drug dealers. Anderson explained that the van belonged to the Anglican Bishop of Peru and that he was a priest and we were missionaries heading to the airport. The policeman was not impressed with our story, so he told us that he was taking us to the police station. He took Anderson's license and registration and headed back to his squad car. Our situation looked dire! I thought we were off to the Peruvian "big house" for sure.
As I wrote previously: I'm not interested in going to prison in the USA, much less to prison in Peru! So I started to pray - out loud! I don't recall what I prayed, but it was something like asking the Lord Jesus to protect us and to send the Holy Spirit to deliver us from prison just like He delivered Paul and Silas from a prison in Philippi (see Acts 16:16-34). The rest of the group chimed in and offered up prayers for divine assistance and protection. Thanks be to God, our prayer was answered.
Another older and equally-as-unfriendly-looking policeman approached the van. He asked Anderson if he was really a priest and if we were really missionaries. When Anderson said that our story was true, the policeman asked him for help. The policeman said that he had a girlfriend and several children out-of-wedlock. He knew that he was living in sin and he wanted to make the situation right in the eyes of the Lord. He asked if God would forgive him for his adulterous behavior and if Anderson would counsel and marry him and his girlfriend. Anderson explained the Gospel to the policeman: that Jesus Christ came to forgive and restore him to God. If the policeman wanted to repent and turn to the LORD, then Jesus was ready to forgive and redeem him. With that, the policeman let us go and the Church of the Good Shepherd gained a new family. Prayer answered. Sin forgiven. Case closed.
There are several points to understand from this episode. First, God answers prayer. We cried out to the LORD and He answered immediately (thank You, Jesus!). Secondly, the situation was not really about us going to prison. The older policeman needed to hear the Gospel and he needed to know that the LORD would forgive him. God used our potentially-frightening situation to forgive and restore one of His beloved people. Thirdly, Jesus still forgives sinners. If we repent and turn to Him, He stands ready to forgive, no matter what sin we have committed. And lastly, God does not set us up to fail. If he sends us out on a mission, He will provide whatever we need to complete the job. He is faithful and true.
Whatever your circumstances or situation, cry out to Jesus in prayer. Trust Him to answer in ways that will bless you and grow His kingdom. You may be surprised how He answers, but you won't be disappointed.